Mister Rogers’ Jewish neighborhood

My article “Mister Rogers’ Jewish neighborhood,” about an exhibit of Jim Judkis’ photos of Fred Rogers, appears in Religion News Service.

Book chapter: Religious Pilgrimage and Sacred Relics as Empathy Builders

My book chapter “Religious Pilgrimage and Sacred Relics as Empathy Builders,” co-written with Ari Gordon, appears in the book “Designing for Empathy: Perspectives on the Museum Experience” (Rowman & Littlefield/American Alliance Of Museums, 2019), edited by Elif M. Gokcigdem. To order the book, click here.

To read the chapter, click on the link below to view or download.

Is religious kitsch offensive? The answer is in the eye of the beholder

My article “Is religious kitsch offensive? The answer is in the eye of the beholder” appears in Religion News Service.

Update: The RNS article has also run in National Catholic Reporter.

The Wreck of the Jewish Museum

Photo: Menachem Wecker

My article “The Wreck of the Jewish Museum” appears in Mosaic magazine.

Here’s the response from Tom Freudenheim, former assistant secretary for museums at the Smithsonian Institutions, former director of the museum program at the National Endowment for the Arts, and former director of several museums.

Here’s a second response from Edward Rothstein, critic-at-large for the Wall Street Journal and former cultural critic-at-large for The New York Times.

And here’s the third and final one from artist and writer Richard McBee.

Here’s my reply to Freudenheim, Rothstein, and McBee.

And here’s my interview on Tikvah’s podcast.

Update: Ben Schachter, professor of visual art at Saint Vincent College, responds to the articles in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

The Satanic Temple is a real religion, says IRS

The Almighty may not think the Satanic Temple is a church. But the taxman has given it the thumbs-up.

The rest of the article, “The Satanic Temple is a real religion, says IRS,” appears in Religion News Service.

Civil War references hide in plain sight in American pre-Raphaelite art

My article “Civil War references hide in plain sight in American pre-Raphaelite art,” about a National Gallery of Art exhibit, appears in The Art Newspaper.

Charles Herbert Moore, Hudson River, Above Catskill (1865) Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth
Charles Herbert Moore, “Hudson River, Above Catskill’ (1865)/Amon Carter Museum of American Art

False Attributions Have Beleaguered Tintoretto’s Reputation. Three New Museum Shows Hope to Change That

My article “False Attributions Have Beleaguered Tintoretto’s Reputation. Three New Museum Shows Hope to Change That” appears in artnet. Several works at the three Tintoretto shows at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, feature corrected attributions.

Dear celebrities (and everyone else, too): Stop wearing sunglasses at museums!

My article “Dear celebrities (and everyone else, too): Stop wearing sunglasses at museums!” appears in Washington Post Magazine.

Here’s a selection:

Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern art at the National Gallery, hates sunglasses and wears them only when driving while facing the sun. “I guess I want to have an unfiltered view of the world to the extent possible, and that goes for art, too,” he told me. “I can’t imagine putting on sunglasses to look at art. It seems totally absurd.”

Archie Rand, a professor at Brooklyn College and a painter who has had more than 100 solo exhibitions, recalls a visit in 1987 to see 10 paintings at a Manhattan art gallery. Rand arrived to find the gallery owner fuming and railing about a curator and his entourage who had just viewed the art. “He yelled . . . that they were all wearing sunglasses and ‘How the f— can you look at the color of a painting wearing f—ing sunglasses?’ ” Rand remembers.

At Chicago museum, Mexican Catholic history emerges

My article “At Chicago museum, Mexican Catholic history emerges” appears in National Catholic Reporter. Here’s a selection:

In a recent interview, Cesáreo Moreno, the National Museum of Mexican Art’s visual arts director and chief curator, told a tale of two Spanish waves. Early Franciscan, Dominican and Augustinian missionaries were comparatively compassionate and brought technologies, such as the pottery wheel and aqueducts, to Mesoamerica.

Following the Protestant Reformation and the Counter Reformation, the Spanish Inquisition’s moral policing influenced subsequent missionaries. From the 1560s until the late 18th century, Catholic missionaries erased traditional Mexican culture and life, particularly symbols and rituals that drew upon Mesoamerican cosmology.

“They came up with a pantheon of icons, in other words, ‘If you’re going to paint St. James the killer of Moors, this is how he is to be depicted. If you’re to paint an image of the Nativity of Christ, these are the elements,’ ” Moreno said. “They really came down hard. Nothing was left to interpretation. Everything had to be copied exactly and believed in this one firm way.”

Cantor regains his lost voice by composing Jewish music

Arnold Saltzman at his Adas Israel office/Menachem Wecker
Arnold Saltzman at his Adas Israel office/Menachem Wecker

My article “Cantor regains his lost voice by composing Jewish music” appears in Religion News Service.

  • Selected articles

    NMAAHC "The Imitation Game: Are museums being clear enough with the public about what’s real and what’s fake?" Washington Post Magazine. March 3, 2019.

    Bobby Fischer gravestone "Searching for Fischer’s Legacy." Chess Life magazine. March 2018. (PDF file).

    Jules Olitski star "A Memorial That Knows Its Biblical History." Wall St. Journal. Sept. 22, 2017.

    CIA art collection "Infiltrating the CIA’s Secret Art Collection." Playboy. Jan./Feb. 2017.
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